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Phoenix Alpharetta Backs Up Start With Win Over AYR

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Phoenix Alpharetta Backs Up Start With Win Over AYR

Prop Scotty Colcord assesses his options.

Phoenix Alpharetta defeated AYR Inman Park 33-22 Friday in Georgia high school action.

AYR is fielding two high school teams that, as a program, are very effective. AYR plays as a unit outside the region. This Inman Park side, populated largely by players from the Atlanta neighborhood of the same name, was solid, testing Phoenix at the breakdown and forcing plenty of penalties in that area of the game. 

Their forwards battled well and were aggressive, and while they have talent out wide, the connections weren’t quite there to hurt Phoenix too much.

For the Alpharetta side, they made several long breaks that were usually hauled down by the AYR Inman Park cover defense. However, Inman Park were hit with several penalties on those occasions.

The result was that five tries were scored by Phoenix Alpharetta No. 8 Sederik Saxon. While Saxon had a good game, his tries total were because he’s the main quick-tap man on penalties, and Phoenix had three penalties he took over the line after the rest of the team had worked the ball into position.

This is a good result for Phoenix after a 3-0 showing at Carolina Ruggerfest.

“I’m biased, of course, but Carolina Ruggerfest is not only the largest – but the best high school 15s tournament in the United States – where else do you get this many age/ grade club and school teams from this many states playing multiple matches in a world-class facility,” said Phoenix head coach Erik Saxon.  “Having run the tournament for 11 of its 20 years before moving to Georgia, – I was happy to see that this year’s event was bigger and better than ever.”

Saxon, founder of CJRA and former head coach of the Charlotte Tigers, moved to the Atlanta area with his family last Summer and was asked to take the club’s reins by longtime friends on the board of Alpharetta Phoenix. With him came his son, Sederik. 

“The coaching staff at Alpharetta is absolutely incredible.  So, I’m certainly not adding any secret rugby knowledge here,” said the elder Saxon. “I think what the club needed was someone who is pretty decent at simplifying practice plans, teaching the fundamentals, and connecting all the existing pieces.”

Sederik Saxon, for his part, said that coming onto the team he was not interested in telling his new teammates how to play rugby, but more interested in fitting into what they do. As the club tries to ramp up its recruiting it is still working to build depth (they played Ruggerfest with only 21 players). 

Still they exploded for a 47-0 win over Southern Pines with a spread attack that creates both overloads and mismatches and a rush defense that takes away decision-making time.

Against St. Edward Green (their 2nd side), Phoenix made some key open-field plays and flyhalf Felix Kennett made a slashing run off of a nice offload to make it 7-7. Andrew Blevins then blocked a clearance kick, gathered it and was in for a key try. Saxon scored twice to seal it 28-10.

Against the Raleigh Rattlesnakes and their gritty forward game.

It was 7-7 at halftime but in the second half Saxon bulled over for three tries to put the game in Phoenix’s control.

“Everything at 100%,” said Blevins. “We made mistakes, but we did it at full speed.